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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  September 10, 2010 1:00am-2:00am EDT

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hardy mcmannis in at a healthy 8 pounds, 14 ounces. there she is. mother and daughter are doing well, daddy michael and big brother, cameron, are beaming with pride. congratulations and welcome to the world, isabella. stephen hawking is here tomorrow night. donald trump monday. bill maher on tuesday. anderson cooper right now and "ac 360." anderson? we begin with breaking news
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that the united states. one person is confirmed dead, seven people injured in a massive fire in northern california. authorities believe that toll is likely to go up. dozens of homes have gone up and flames and the fire broke out after an explosion in the town of san bruno, which is near the san francisco airport. they believed it was killed by a gas line and are working hard to contain it. witnesses report hearing a loud explosion and dan simon is on the scene. why are you able to tell us? >> reporter: we were near what we believe was ground zero and it was just total devastation. there were many homes level them from us. fire crews dealing with very first flames. we believe this fire was caused by some kind of gas explosion and the explosion was so fierce that we saw pieces of concrete
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100 yards away from ground zero. it was unbelievable. this is going to be a long night for firefighters. originally, rose mary, there were reports that a plan may have crashed into the hillside here in san bruno. those reports were false. when you got to the scene, you can understand why some people were under that impression because it looked like something had gone down here. it was that began that massive. as you said, we are dealing with at least one fatality but the fact that it happened just after 6:00 local time when people were coming home from work, strong odds that you will be seeing more people injured and perhaps more fatalities. >> that is the tragedy of this story. you mentioned that the thinking that this could have been caused by a gas explosion, i don't want to put you on the spot, but people across the globe have gas
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coming into their homes. what type of explosion? what could have triggered this because one could expect that anyone with gas into their own, there are lots of systems to try to make sure this is safe. >> it is take a question and this is just speculation but the kind of thing that can trigger this explosion would be somebody with a bako taking in the ground or maybe doing some kind of construction work and may have hit a gas line. we don't know if that occurred but that is the kind of thing that can trigger this kind of explosion. whenever you have, it was massive. according to a firefighter, he called this the fire of a lifetime. he had never seen anything like this. and again, right now, at least 25 homes destroyed. that number likely to go up because we're dealing with strong winds and they are so strong they can carry amber's and cause of their homes to light up.
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that is the concern. firefighters and a defensive mode. piniella this is in some ways a lost cause, just try to prevent other columns from going out. >> we are looking at those pictures and you could see rows and rows of homes. they are clustered all together. this is showing a huge blaze. they have just described to us some of those homes, some totally destroyed. >> reporter: no doubt. when i told you i was at ground zero, this is a cliche, like you are at a movie set, in a war so, whatever you want to college. scores of homes leveled and who knows what the precise number is. no doubt, it is going to go up, just after devastation. it will be a very long night for these firefighters and you are dealing with lots of people in
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this area who are evacuated from their homes. these homes were not touched but the fact there is still so much danger out there, they had to get hundreds it not thousands away from their home. the power is out and it is a mass. >> looking at that area that is affected, not only those people directly affected but some on the outskirts that have been evacuated out. did they think there is a possibility of this spreading or is this contained in some way? >> reporter: that is the real mystery. you are dealing with the elements that they cannot control and that is the wind. there are fire crews from all over the san francisco bay area here, hundreds of firefighters aggressively battling this not only on the ground but from the air. planes dropping retardant. you only see that during a wild fire. the fact you see it in something
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like this, it is extraordinary. it just shows you that they know they're dealing with something massive and trying to attack it as aggressively as possible. >> we thank dan simon at the scene. as we were saying, one person confirmed dead but authorities fear the death toll could very well rise. we are keeping an eye on that and we will continue to fall in december yeah updates as we get more information. for now, the words in the united states will now see "ac "360"". >> larry, thanks very much. thanks for joining us. breaking news, the little-known pastor whose plan to burn korans sparked an american fire around the world. he canceled his plans but tonight it's possible he hasn't. the latest in the bizarre back and forth of the last few hours and how this little pastor has somehow inserted himself in the controversy over the mosque and islamic center near ground zero. the democratic congressman who says the health plan is for people to, quote, die soon. most controversial member of his
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party is up for re-election. we'll take you in "360 politics under pressure." facing the makings of republican tidal wave. are democrats running away from and in some cases running against the obama policies, some that they voted for? we begin with the breaking news, the koran burning planned for 9/11 that was canceled today after a series of twists and turns, involving everyone from defense secretary gates to donald trump could be back on again. that's the breaking news tonight. only the obscure florida preacher knows for sure. only thing we learned for sure is that he is trying to expand and stretch his 15 minutes of fame, linking himself to the other hot button of the day, the proposed islamic center two blocks from ground zero. he said the koran burning, which he called off hours before, could be back on again, claiming
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a florida imam had lied to him that the proposed new york mosque was moving. he said, quote, we are rethinking our position. we're little back to square one and we hope this thing works out. this is a guy with a flocking a few dozen people, sparked international demonstrations, draw a presidential warning, a warning from the head of the military in afghanistan, a call from the defense secretary of the united states today, a visit today from the fbi and more. it is all, frankly, surreal. earlier today, he announced the koran burning was off and this was the reason he gave. >> we have or he has been in contact with the imam in new york city. i, with the imam here, i will be flying up there on saturday to meet with the imam at the ground zero mosque. he has agreed to move the
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location. >> agreed to move the location, he claims, of a mosque he barely ever mentioned in the run-up to his proposed koran burning. why would the new york imam suddenly be negotiating with this extremist pastor? here is where the story falls apart. a florida imam, who is president of the islamic society of central florida. here is what he said. >> i have made this morning contact with the office of imam feisal abdul rauf and got a commitment to fly up to new york and meet with him in the company of pastor jones to discuss and come to a decision on relocating the mosque in new york. >> there, he seems to be saying there's no actual deal, just discussion. a short time later the people behind the islamic center near
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ground zero said just that, there was no deal. then imam feisal rauf issued this statement. i have not spoken to pastor jones or imam musri. we are not going to toy with our religion or any other. nor are we going to bartter. we are here to extend our hands to build peace and harmony. by 6:30, pastor jones was back in front of the cameras. >> i was told exactly that the imam would move the mosque from ground zero. i was told he cannot move it tomorrow. i said that is fine. but it cannot be in ten years. these are exact words that i said. the man said that is fine. i said, now he has agreed to move the mosque away from the ground zero area? yes, he has. that is what i was told. >> who exactly told you that? the name of the person who told you that? >> the imam who was here with me in the press conference.
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>> imam musri. >> i guess. i don't know his name. >> he doesn't know the name of the florida imam that he spent the last two days with. and the florida imam has a different story. >> when he was pressed on it, he said i didn't speak to the imam in new york, i spoke to imam musri and he gave me his word that -- >> that it was a deal? >> that i will work on it, not that -- he knows and i know and the whole world knows that it's not in my hands. that project is not my project. i have no control over it. so -- >> you believe that he knows that there's no deal even though he's saying it? >> yes, i do. >> so, we'll be talking to our political panel about this, paul begala, david gergen and jeffrey toobin and why suddenly pastor jones believes he has a role to play here in new york. imam musri joins us from
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gainesville. thank you so much for joining us. this pastor says you gave him assurances that imam rauf had agreed to move his center. you're basically saying he's lying, right? >> he absolutely is wrong. i -- and he knows that three times we went over that i had only a commitment from the office of the imam in new york to schedule a meeting, to go up there and discuss. the conditions that he cancel the event here. but he stretched his word up when he stood in front of the camera and said that i gave him guarantee. i have no power to guarantee for him anything in new york. >> so, you were standing next to him, though, when he was, in your words, stretching the truth. why didn't you then say, wait a minute. wait a minute. that's not at all what i said? >> i felt that he was trying to
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emphasize that point to save face and to give himself a reason to call this off. but in the question and answer session that followed, i made it clear that what he said is not accurate and -- >> okay. this pastor hates islam. he doesn't believe muslims should be allowed into the united states. he has preached that he doesn't want any new mosques to be built in america anywhere. he admitted in an interview with me that he is basically the definition of a bigot. why should the imam in new york negotiate with this guy that, it's important to remember, represents a few dozen people and sells used furniture on ebay to make a living? why should be there a meeting? >> i don't think there should be a meeting. he requested a meeting and i'm willing to schedule it with the imam in new york.
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>> does it worry you that -- sorry. go ahead. >> i feel that he is not -- >> go ahead. >> go ahead. >> okay. does it worry you that he insisted on having a meeting only on saturday, on 9/11? you told john zarrella he was only available on saturday. this is the guy, this pastor has no full-time job, has plenty of time to appear on television. doesn't it seem to you that he's basically desperate for publicity and wanted to have as big a story as he could by meeting on 9/11? are you concerned about that? >> i am very concerned about that. the point was that we will schedule the meeting as soon as that is possible after we place the call to the office of the imam in new york. and there are no guarantees that the meeting will take place on saturday. i told him i'm willing to travel on saturday. he is willing. but it all depends on the availability of the imam in new york. >> pastor jones said he might have to rethink, reconsider his
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announcement about not burning korans. do you think at this point -- you spent a couple of days with him privately. do you think he will go ahead and burn korans? >> i don't think so. i think he got the message from secretary gates, from david petraeus, from many christian leaders who have called on him to call it quits to that event. i think he is trying right now to put pressure on me and twist my arm and the arm of the imam in new york to try to achieve something beyond what we have agreed on. >> right. he's basically trying to save face is what you're saying. what does it say about him, about this pastor that if what you're saying is accurate, that he would stretch the truth or lie about something like this, try to insert himself into something that he hasn't been involved with at all and, after spending two days with you, not even know your name.
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>> exactly, that's the point. after spending two days trying to talk to him, he does not know my name and he does not even know the imam in new york, but he found a new opportunity to stay in the spotlight and, unfortunately, he is trying to blackmail me and the imam in new york to do that and stay in the spotlight in the meantime. >> you say he's trying to blackmail you. in what way? >> first, he is accusing me that i lied to him, which i didn't. i was very explicit and clear in what i said to him, that we will schedule a meeting. we have an agreement from the office of the imam rauf to have that meeting and i told him if i invited him along, would they accept that? they said sure. now, we have not scheduled the meeting, nor did i promise him that the mosque at or near ground zero would be relocated. that's not in my power to give
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him. >> imam musri, i appreciate you being with us. it has to be one of the more surreal days of your life. it's certainly one of the more surreal stories we've covered. >> it has been. >> i appreciate you coming on and explaining things from your perspective. thank you very much. >> thank you so much, anderson. >> join the live chat at we'll continue the conversation with our panel, david gergen, paul begala and jeffrey toobin. later more breaking news. potentially big decision from president obama after a federal judge ruled don't ask, don't tell policy is found unconstitutional. four score and 100 -- listen to this guy. >> i have been a republican since i was born and i have been what's around the corner is one of life's great questions.
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if you're just joining us, breaking news that pastor terry jones has called off the plans for burning korans is back to square one. a deal had been reached, he told us earlier, in a nutshell, they would move the center for the site and he would cancel the koran burning. where did pastor jones get the idea to equate koran burning with mosque building in new york? political contributor paul begala, zuhdi jasser and senior
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legal analyst jeffrey toobin. we debated, jeff, for a long time today whether or not even to cover this story. of course, it took all these bizarre turns and then it became, well, we do cover this story. this is one of those agonizing things where this guy is clearly an extremist. he represents a few dozen people. he makes money by selling furniture on ebay to people don't know it's supporting his little church. is this just the media making him into something? >> you had to cover the story today. the president is talking about it. secretary gates, general petraeus. it's already a story. the mistake we made, including cnn, i think, is to give him publicity in the first place. >> although cnn -- i mean, i know certainly we didn't really talk about him until general petraeus came out and said this is a risk to u.s. forces, which happened earlier this week. >> that certainly -- >> that's when the coverage -- >> makes the story. >> that's when the coverage blew up. >> to give him attention, we
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would never consider covering some crazy person in the street out on 58th street. >> like the westboro baptist church people i wouldn't put on television. >> correct. this guy is no different. he is a bigot, a lunatic and should not have gotten national attention. that, unfortunately, is what led to this crazy spiral that we're still on. >> what do you make of all of this? >> well, i think we've all been sucked in, involuntarily, into a freak show. this fellow is not just a lunatic. he's a jerk. he has been playing around with american lives. he is a publicity hound. he does live off the oxygen of media coverage. but as i learn more about it, i can see the dilemma the media organizations like cnn, it is true, general petraeus is acting in the best interest of the country, trying to protect lives, and spoke out about this, it naturally prompted the media to start looking at it. i do think we have now given him too much attention.
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if he decides to burn korans, yes, you have to have a camera there. but i think we ought to downplay this. >> i don't think anybody should show -- i mean, i certainly would not air images of this guy burning korans. i don't think anybody should. >> well, you know -- if al jazeera does that and we get a lot of protests around the world, i guarantee you we'll get sucked in again. i think the faster we can turn this guy's microphones off and turn off the lights, the better. he is living off the publicity and i can't tell you how much -- this is so -- this is damaging to the country now. i don't think -- i think it was unwise for the president to get as deeply involved as he has. i think it did give more legitimacy to this guy. it's time to shut off the microphones. >> you were opposed to billing that mosque and islamic center near ground zero, although obviously they have the right under the constitution.
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what do you make, though, of this pastor trying to insert himself into that? it seems like the most craven attempt to extend his 15 minutes of, you know, surreal fame. >> yeah, exactly. this guy and his congregation are a spec of hate and fear mongering and they basically are exploiting the situation. the lesson to learn here is that we, as a nation, will never negotiate with terrorists or those that use extreme means of hate to try to manipulate the discourse. and i think, similarly, we've seen -- and i think it's not just the media's fault. this guy put this issue on facebook. it then got translated to different websites and the islamic media. from a teaching standpoint, we're in an information war. we need to start to take the offense and say we're going to advocate for ideas of freedom and liberty and stand behind the constitution even though we may pay a price for it. just when they had videos of our
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soldiers, god forbid, being beheaded. all of that is an information war we have yet to begin as americans. >> yet, paul, controlling information -- information has become democratized. this guy will videotape -- this pastor will probably videotape it, put it on the web and it will be out there. >> that's the thing. i'm trying to move back, who commented when, whether we should have covered it. the reason general petraeus commented on it, which is why cnn covered it, is because he had to. it's because as dr. jasser says, it was getting out in the bloodstream in other ways. when gergen and i were working in the white house, if cnn didn't cover it, it doesn't happen. now it does. he gives crazy religious fanatics a bad name but knows how to manipulate the media. i suspect paris hilton even thinks he's a media -- i don't
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think it's a very easy call, actually. the real responsibility is with this preacher. he is the man who is inciting hate and should be held accountable for it. >> everyone stick around. we'll continue this discussion and take a quick break. we've got a lot more to cover. stick around. we'll be right back. h one hand. you could switch for up to 600 highway miles on a single tank of gas. or the hundred-thousand mile powertrain warranty. over a thousand people a day are switching to chevy. they're not just trading in, they're trading up. get 1.9% apr financing for 60 months on a 2011 traverse or choose $1,500 cash back. to everyone who wants to go to college and everyone who started college
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what do we know about this fire? how big is it? when did it start? >> just before 7:00 it started. we don't know exactly what sparked the fire. there was first reports of maybe an aircraft down but the faa and san francisco international airport says they don't have any reports of missing aircraft or any downed aircraft. as you can see, the fames are being fueled by something. there was a loud explosion being
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reported by witnesses and just dozens of homes on fire. several cars on fire in the area. there's speculation it may be a high pressure gas line. crews are trying to assess how many injuries they have there and what they're going to do to contain the flame. >> it looks like there is a source of those flames, as you mention, in one area. we're also seeing simmering flames elsewhere. it almost looks like a forest fire. are those smaller fires -- have the flames been picked up by the wind from that main area? >> yeah. one of their biggest challenges right now is the flame -- or is the wind that's fueling the fire and also spreading the fire as well. the firefighters are worried about the potential spread of this by the source, which could be this gas line or whatever it is that's fueling that fire. in addition, the amount of embers falling on to adjacent homes, catching those homes on fire. it's still very much an unfolding incident as we speak. we've got aircraft and helicopters from cal fire in the
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area, literally dropping retardant on homes to stop them from catching fire and an assessment, how many people may be injured, where those people are and doing an accounting of those folks. >> i assume you have folks on the ground. are they battling the blaze on the ground as well? we saw a helicopter pass through. these flames are huge. do you have people on the ground able to fight it? >> the local fire departments are there, trying to figure out what is the best strategy to fight this. of course, we do have folks in the aircraft, dropping retardant and water. there's a full-on effort there, hundreds of fires and people there just trying to get control of this. like i said, it's still an unfolding incident. we just don't know exactly what sparked this. but we're trying to stop it. >> how residential an area is this? it's hard to tell -- >> it's a pretty residential area. it's along highway 280, if you're familiar with where that's at, along skyline boulevard, south of san francisco, about two miles east of san francisco -- i'm sorry, two miles west of san francisco
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international airport. so, it's, as you can see by the picture, a pretty populated area and lots of homes in that area. >> any reports right now of injuries or anything? >> we've heard some reports from folks that there are injuries there, there are people being treated but there's no way at this point to be able to give you a count. it's still unfolding. >> right. best of luck to you and to all those fighting the fire. we wish you the best. thank you for being with us keshlgs, kelly. >> thank you. isha sesay join us with other headlines. it's believed three people have been shot. police with conducting an investigation at the scene. iran said it will release one of three american hikers it's holding. sarah may be freed on saturday at the end of the holy month of ramadan. they were arrested more than a year ago after allegedly straying into iran territory while hiking in iraq. iran has accused them of being spies.
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83 miners trapped in chile. in it, they explain how supplies are distributed on a, quote, as-needed basis. the miners have been trapped for more than a month now, anderson, and they may be there until december. it's a terrible situation. but we continue to follow that one. >> yeah, unbelievable. they're now able to get them a lot of supplies and stuff through various tubes, which is hard to believe. >> i know, but, you know -- it's hard to believe, they just want alcohol and cigarettes. >> is that what they said? >> apparently they said no, we want alcohol and cigarettes. we need to get this thing going. anyway they said, no, they're getting meatballs and pasta. >> oh, well. they can dream. >> they can. >> i'll talk to you later. politics under pressure. florida congressman alan grayson's rough and tumble fight to keep his seat. he is not the only democrat in the fight of his political life, of course. breaking news tonight, a court ruling that could put president obama on the spot, a
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as the mid-term elections draw closer, we're periodically giving you inside access to the inner workings of key campaigns. tonight alan grayson, first-term democrat in florida. although he is only a freshman, he has repeatedly and harshly criticized republicans.
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listen. >> if you get sick, america, the republican health care plan is this. die quickly. i'm the only member of congress who actually worked as an economist and the lobbyist is trying to teach me about economics. >> an acronym, stfu. i don't think i can stay that on the air but you can figure out had an that means. i understand what the president is doing. people attack him and he turns the other cheek like any good muslim would do. >> upclose look at congressman grayson's campaign, here is randi kaye. this is the war room at alan grayson's headquarters, grayson is a democrat, brash and combative former lawyer for whistle blowers and now a congressman running for his second term in orlando, florida. his staff just got word a new attack ad against him was
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coming. >> cut $500 billion from medicare. >> they're spewing false claims about cutting medicare. >> reporter: his campaign manager quickly shifts into damage control. what are you hearing about this particular ad that could be coming? >> this particular ad is trying to distort the congressman's record on senior issues when, in fact, he has been one of the biggest proponents and biggest deliverers for seniors in the district. >> reporter: the group behind the attack describes itself as the conservative alternative to the aarp. >> nasty name calling. >> a lot of retirees live in orlando and they tend to vote. but grayson tells me they won't be fooled by, quote, special interest groups trying to buy an election for his republican opponent. >> how do you tackle that? >> 400 knocks on the door, 600,000 live phone calls and we've seen over and over again that that matters a lot more than whatever people are seeing on tv because frankly they're on to it. >> maybe. if the campaign is -- massing to
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defeat grayson and for dan webster, they are reinforcements in the knick of time. dan webster has little cash left but those conservative groups have millions to spend and would love to bring grayson down. after all, he said the republicans plan for health care was, quote, if you get sick, die quickly. he has also said that putting republicans in government was like making al qaeda members pilots. as for dick cheney, grayson called him a vampire. in other words, in politics, grayson is a take no prisoners warrior. >> i think it's -- >> but at an amusement park on a night out with his wife and five children, grayson is a different man. >> the thrill of a 5-year-old going on his first roller coaster ride, you know, it's indescribable. this is actually the happiest place on earth.
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you know, fun is never more than five minutes away. >> reporter: grayson believes he is the only member of congress to have five children in school. >> my daughter, skye, is 15. my daughter, star, is 11. my son, sage, is 9 and my twins, my beautiful, adorable twins, stone and storm, are 5. >> reporter: on another note, some have compared you to sarah palin because of the unusual children's names. how do you feel about being compared to sarah palin? >> i hope she runs for president. i hope she chooses me as her vice president and i hope that she quits her third day in office so that i'll have my shot. she does that, you know. she quits. >> reporter: grayson never quits. he learned that, growing up far from orlando in the bronx, new york, when he was 11, he says, a bully pushed him under a moving bus. but he managed to pull himself to safety. that was the beginning. that's when he began fighting. the son of two school teachers,
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grayson attended the prestigious bronx high school of science, then harvard and harvard law. he worked as a janitor to help pay tuition. as a lawyer, he exposed waste among contractors in iraq and then eventually figured out he may have a greater impact in congress than in the courtroom. so back at campaign headquarters, a new attack ad targeting him means another fight. they are planning how to defeat the conservative group behind it. >> ad limitations, we have to figure out what they are. if they're coming anywhere near the line, then we're going to stop them. >> reporter: grayson is ahead in the polls. he has raised plenty of money for this, but he has learned to expect attacks could come from anywhere. and he says he's not wired to lose. randi kaye, cnn, orlando. >> president obama will stomp for democratic candidates in key swing states this fall. one of those important states, ohio, where president obama talked about the economy yesterday.
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wisconsin, nevada. a lot of democratic candidates are keeping their distance from him. he won't visit states, white house acknowledges, where his presence could hurt democrats. paul begala, conservative david frum, editor of david, is the president a liability? >> sure, the president is a visible symbol of the status quo in the country. dreadful. people are really hurting. and the president's own constituents are the people who are hurting the most. young people, minorities. horrifying unemployment numbers and they can rightly say this didn't deliver for me. so why should i deliver for you? >> paul, what happened to -- remember there was all that talk at the inauguration about the obama army, all those people they have on their database who will be this ready reserve, people who will be energized for
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mid terms and specific issues? what happened? >> a lot of them are depressed. my personal theory is on 2008, election day, starbucks gave free coffee if you vote. starbucks demographics, pretty good for the democrats. caffeine is a stimulant. since then, a lot of states have decriminalized marijuana. pot bad, coffee good. they're sitting at home, smoking it up. a 50% drop in the three statewide elections we've had post-obama in massachusetts, virginia and new jersey. 50% decline in young people's vote. while many of them are disenchanted perhaps with president obama, i have to tell you, a lot of us older democrats are getting a little frustrated with the youngsters. this is a marathon race. yeah, they got their hopy changy guy in 2008. if they want to actually enact all that change, they have to stay in the game. >> david, from a republican perspective, do you think the gop would like to see more alan grayson? >> alan grayson is a big part of
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the problem, generally, with the country. he is really a talk radio figure more than a political figure. he is not somebody who is in congress to make legislation. obviously he can't work with anybody on the other side of the aisle, the way he talks. his strategy, it will work for him, is to become famous by being polarizing, to stand out, to become a symbol of the left for the left against the right. you can raise a lot of money that way. you can't accomplish anything. and that is part of the same disease that's consuming us all. >> paul, do you think grayson is part of the problem or do you want to see more, folks with his kind of energy in the democratic party? >> you always have a mix in the congress. go back to the continental congress. there were bomb throwers in that one, too. it's all part of the great magic of democracy. people of central florida are smart. if they think he's delivering for them, if they like the voice he gives them, i think that will be fine. i'm a little less alarmed. someone said that to president clinton, how long will these politicians continue to make extreme positions?
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he said as long as you keep rewarding it. we keep re-electing these folks. i'm not alarmed by that. there's plenty of room for all kinds of voices. at least this guy is funny, entertaining and believes in something. >> david frum, paul begala, we've got to leave it there. sorry about all the breaking news tonight. federal district court judge in southern california ruling that the military's don't ask, don't tell policy is unconstitutional under the first and fifth amendments. jeffrey toobin, it would be a good time to have him around. coincidentally, we do. is this judge the right judge to be making this ruling? >> she. >> she, sorry. >> virginia phillips. since president clinton put it in, there have been -- >> this is like republican. >> log cabin republicans. this is the first one to have succeeded. certainly the justice department, part of the obama administration, will appeal saying it is consequence it
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contusional. and that's part of the paradox of this ruling. defense department under secretary gates saying they want to get rid of it at the same time the justice department is defending the law south florida basically they'll appeal but nothing happens until the appeal goes through? >> well, we'll see. she has to decide whether she will issue a stay. that is not clear at this point. >> if she doesn't you shall a stay -- >> ninth circuit court of appeals will be asked to shall a stay. frankly, given the deference that the courts almost always give to the military, i would be very surprised not to see a stay entered into this court. this certainly will raise the pressure for congress to deal with don't ask, don't tell. the obama administration has said it wants to get rid of it. the pentagon is studying it. but basically moving in that direction. it hasn't happened yet. republicans in the senate have blocked it. i don't know exactly how this is going to affect the politics,
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but it's bth move through the appeals process and the supreme court may get this case as well. >> lot of breaking news tonight, jeff. appreciate it. you might want to stick around for this. our newest -- probably my favorite stump speech i've ever seen in one of our new segments. dispatches from planet politics. >> very long graphic. several injured in a fire, news conference getting under way. the fire chief is about to speak. the fire chief of san bruno. >> fire chief of sambar now.
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at 6:40 this evening, we had a first alarm assignment of an explosion in the area. units responded what was discovered was it looked like a broken castling, high-pressure gas line. none of this can be confirmed. we still had yet to get to the scene of the origin of the fire. we've got 53 homes have been severely damaged, up to 120 homes have some fire damage at this point. we have only one confirmed fatality and it will take us until at least tomorrow into the afternoon to do a full search. >> is it under control? >> we will take questions in just a moment. >> get a moment.
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again, my name is connate jackson, the city manager, the city of san bruno. the city organization is fully mobilized to assist residents. our primary concern at this point is identifying and locating all of the residence of the affected area. we are asking residents of that area to report and to our shelter location on city parkway at the veterans memorial recreation center in city park off of crystal springs road in san bruno. it is important that residents who have been evacuated or who have up voluntarily evacuated to report and in person or to call our emergency hot line at 616-7180. again, that number is 616-7180.
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we are asking residents to report and so that we can make sure that all of the residents in the affected area are fully accounted for. this is our most immediate priority other than the emergency response that will continue through the night on scene at the location of the fire. other than that, we have received overwhelming response from all of the agency's up and down the san mateo county coroner from state and federal officials. we are extremely grateful and we are of course, urgently concerned that the residents, the safety of our residents, is secured and we will be working around the clock to see to it that this incident is managed in the past, most effective way
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possible. unfortunately, we yeah understandably i hope, do not have as much information as we will as time goes on and we will keep you informed. at this point, i would like to introduce the mayor and he will make a few comments. >> this evening. thank you, city manager. once again, the mayor of the city of san bruno. i will leave the specifics and all the details to the professional responders. all i have to say is a terrible tragedy has fallen on our city this afternoon. and our main concern as public officials here are making sure our citizens are safe, we are trying to do that right now. our reach. we have the red cross here, we're interviewing as many people as we can from the affected area. like i said, i am going to leave
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the specifics up to the chiefs and they will give you details. to say a prayer. this will be a long haul for the city and for all of our residents for a number of weeks to come. think it. >> de know how many people are unaccounted for right now? >> no, we do not. we don't have any statistics on that. we have over 100 in the evacuation center so hopefully most of those residents got out to the evacuation centers. we have not been able to get into the area for research. >> chief, described the difficulties you had to night assessing the situation and figuring out what your strategy was. >> our problem was obviously it was a high-pressure gas line. we could not get close to the line until they could shut down that pipeline. currently, they are shutting down distribution lines so we still have residual in the lines so at the last briefing, we were not able to access the area call
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it. >> is the fires still burning? >> 1 at a time. >> the fires are still burning, probably the heaviest damage in the residential area, we are holding and we're confident we will hold a fire to the existent parameter. >> they were helpful in addressing this situation. obviously the distribution line is a different system so they had to get the resources out here. >> could you give us a little bit of space? the question as how many people evacuated. >> all i know is there were 100 people at the evacuation center. >> is there any way of knowing how long people might have to stay away from their homes? >> i could not venture to guess at this point until we get down there to assess it. >> 120 others damaged? >> yes, that is the information we had at the briefing. >> how widespread is the shot
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off of gas services and electricity services? >> i can only guesstimates and not be accurate. >> they will not be here to talk to us? >> that is said to you. the fire is being contained at this point. >> de have a percentage? >> at the briefing, it was 50% contained. we are in a big holding pattern right now and i don't think we will have much extension. >> what is your concern to not? >> actually getting access so we can secure and make sure the gas is shut down and our crews can mop up and clean up the area. >> what does the city have to do and the coming days and weeks? >> the city will try to coordinate as much as we can to help the residents. a hot line will be set up. she told you about that, the city manager, and we will try to set up some information tables if we can, probably and city
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halls for insurance companies and things like that so we can get quick relief for these individuals. >> and not at this time, we have no idea. >> where was the right? >> it was down at the end of the bottom of the glenview, the first hole we noticed. >> what kind of help are you getting? >> at this point, we have declared a disaster, a local disaster, in the city of san bruno, which has been confirmed through the state. we will be accessing federal resources to the extent a are available through that process. >> the expected federal disaster declaration? >> i don't know. >> heavy talk to the governor's office? >> the lieutenant governor certified the proclamation. >> obviously we don't have great lighting in the area and we will have to go through the scene
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down there. that will be priority number one. >> the to get in there to see what happened? >> until we get down there, i hope not. we will do an initial investigation tonight but realistically, it will be tomorrow morning. >> by the evacuation's finish now or could there be more depending on circumstances? >> there could be more. right now we have the most affected areas that we have evacuated and the law enforcement systems are comfortable with that. that does not mean something else could happen. >> they have been smelling gas coming from that betters. what was the response? >> they reported smelling gas for over a week. what was the response? >> this was the first we have any notice of that. >> coming from the debtors. >> the fire department has never had any notice.


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